Organizations host $3.82/gallon at Kent gas station to rally support against state gas tax

KENT, Wash. — Gas prices in Washington are the second highest in the country, averaging $5.06 dollars per gallon on Wednesday. But about 200 drivers got some relief at one gas station in Kent, paying just $3.82 a gallon which is the current national average.

Two organizations helped pay the price difference, and one of them wants to repeal the state’s cap and trade policy.

Drivers who lined up to get the gas discount Wednesday said they’re fed up with how expensive gas is in Washington.

“It’s good not to break your pocket for once,” said Darren Roxas, a Kent Driver.

One younger driver said he’s never even seen gas that cheap.

“Ever since I’ve started driving it hasn’t below like $4 bucks,” said Justyce Holt, from Covington.

The cheap gas event was put on by two groups. One is ‘Americans for Prosperity’, which FactCheck.org describes as a conservative-libertarian group heavily funded by Koch Industries.

The other group is ‘Future 42′, which was advising drivers about a new ballot initiative 2117 that seeks to repeal Washington’s cap and trade law and ban future similar policies.

“Which would lower gas prices overnight,” said Dann Mead Smith, co-leader of Future 42. “It is not normal to pay this high price and people can do something about it.”

Smith said if petitioners can collect 400,000 signatures (324,516 verified) by the end of the year, it will be on the 2024 ballot.

The state’s cap and trade policy took effect in 2023 and charges corporations for carbon emissions using an auction system, but ends up passing down costs to consumers, adding about $0.43 per gallon at the pump.

That’s in addition to $0.49 per gallon of state taxes.

State Senator Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), who is also running for governor, voted for the policy two years ago.

“Do you think it’s costing consumers more money than you expected?” KIRO7′s Deedee Sun asked Mullet.

“Way more money than we expected,” Mullet said. “I don’t think it’s being implemented in a way that’s affordable for Washington residents.”

Mullet has now proposed a bill to lower the price charged at auction for carbon emissions.

“If you actually care about fighting climate change, you want to do it in a way that keeps our state affordable, because other states will never follow our lead,” Mullet said.

He said he doesn’t support repealing cap and trade altogether, but something needs to change.

“I think we are going to have to fix this in the upcoming session in January. I don’t see any way we could leave town next year without fixing how this bill is working,” Mullet said.

Governor Jay Inslee’s office said it is working with legislators on price transparency at the pump and other ways to bring down the cost too.

A spokesperson also pointed to record profits being earned by fossil fuel corporations.

“Some like Chevron claim Washington’s law alone would “bankrupt” them if they didn’t charge consumers. That’s why Gov. Inslee and legislators are proposing price transparency legislation in 2024 to address price gouging at the pump,” said spokesperson Mike Faulk.

Both Mullet and Inslee’s office said they are also working to link Washington’s carbon market to California and possibly Quebec to help bring down prices.

California companies are currently paying around $30 a ton of carbon emissions, while Washington buyers were paying more than $63 per ton at the last auction.

Washington’s cap and trade program has currently brought in about $1.3 billion in revenue – much more than expected.